Triathlon Volunteering


Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Did anyone get tricked with any good April Fools jokes? Do share! I am always on the lookout because my sister usually gets me. Speaking of which, today is her birthday! Happy Birthday Christy!


it is also the lovely Kelly Olexa’s birthday. be sure to go wish her a good one! Kelly You rock thanks for putting together the amazing company that is FitFluential!

So Saturday Bobby and I volunteered a the sprint triathlon in our neighborhood. Last year, we were spectators. This year, we were mighty volunteers!

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Bobby agreed to be a kayaker, and I agreed to be placed somewhere on the run course. Little did I know, that the dynamic running skirts duo of me and Gina would make for a crazy and hilarious day!

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We got to the course at 6:30 am, and Gina and I volunteered to work the water stop on the run course together. Since we had to go fill up cups, we sadly missed the swim start of the race. Burt here are some pictures I took before we headed to our station.

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Getting ready to start the swim

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We had enough time to watch Bobby hit the lake in his borrowed kayak. I told him good luck and to not let anyone drown.

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oh…and don’t hit anyone in the head with your kayak…

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We made it out to our water stop and started filling cups. We had plenty of time until the first runner came by, so we (Gina really) made sure our table was well stocked and efficient.

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Did I add we had to fill cups from a GIANT jug of very heavy water?

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I was quite proud of our water stop.

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We went and stood in the median so we could cheer for the bikers as they came by. Where we were stationed, we got to see them going and coming back in.

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We yelled, screamed, and cheered our little hearts out. We even got some thank you’s from the bikers (mostly women, which we found interesting).

About 20-30 minutes later, the first runner came through. Just like the bikers, the runners came down a dirt road behind our water stop, ran past us, then came back by us straight down the road, so we had to get them both ways. For the first few minutes, we were ok, since it was just people coming form one way. But, soon enough, things got CRAZY when people were coming from both directions. We tried to each get people from one particular direction, but then there was no one to fill cups. Luckily, about this time, Bobby called and asked where we were and he came to help. This was a MAJOR life saver. He filled cups while we handed out Powerade and water. There is no way we would have managed on our own had he not shown up when he did. Oh, and Gina somehow managed to take a Powerade bath. She had it all over her clothes and her face. Luckily, I came out pretty much unscathed.

We had a good system, and I enjoyed cheering for the runners as I gave them the liquids they needed. The ones towards the back were the most fun, they would walk and talk to us, crack jokes, it was great. We got some more thank yous, which was awesome, and the time flew by. Soon enough, it was time to clean up and head to the finish line.

We had a ton of paper cups to pick up from both directions, but I totally didn’t mind one bit. I have thrown many a paper cup on the ground and am so grateful for the volunteers that pick them up for me. It was my turn to help out and I gladly did it.

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We hopped on the golf cart and headed to the finish for some food and to watch the awards. We swung by the house and picked up the dogs so they could enjoy the sunshine and all the people wanting to pet them, of course.

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With  almost 300 participants, the race was a huge success, and I had a blast volunteering. It was nice to see “the other side” and it totally makes you more appreciative! We were out there for almost 6 hours. It really takes up a lot of your Saturday and is a big commitment so a THANK YOU to everyone who has ever volunteered for a race! Here are a few tips and words of advice I gleaned from my experience:

1.) Do what you are asked to do. Gina and I planned to watch the swim start before heading to our station. I knew we would have plenty of time to fill cups before the first runner came through. However, right before the start of the race, two of the people putting it on asked us to go ahead and go to the water stop. My inclination was to say “but we REALLY want to watch the swim start and we have plenty of time” (which we did, we stood around out there for 30 minutes before a runner came though) BUT, I didn’t. I smiled and said “ok” and we headed to our station. I had to remember I was not here for me, but to do whatever they needed me to do, no questions asked.

2.) Know what you are getting into. Bobby volunteered to kayak, and I am so glad I didn’t. While he was in the water waiting for the race to start, a snake started swimming right at his kayak!! he wacked it with his paddle a few times and chased it off the swim course before the race started. I think I would have died. seriously. (And you wonder why I don’t open water swim. ack!!!)

3. Be prepared to scream till your throat hurts. Gina and I did a lot of yelling. At the bikers, at the runners, we talked and yelled, cheered and jumped up and down. It was great fun but not for the anti social. Be prepared to scream your guts out.  Also, be cheerful and helpful. And smile.

4.) Know the course, and basic race information. The runners were running out one road and back down another, and the arrow was ttiinnyyy and a lot of people missed it, so we had to yell for them to keep running straight.  Had we not known the course we could have had people running the wrong way. That would have been a disaster. I had a guy ask me a question about the swim which I didn’t know the answer too, so I found out, then found the guy and told him.

5.) Wear sunscreen, and stay hydrated.  Luckily, we were stationed at a water stop, so the hydration wasn’t an issue. But it was very warm and sunny, so it is important to take care of yourself as you are out on the course. No one wants a volunteer passing out on race day!

Volunteering was a really good experience. This was my second race to volunteer at, but my first triathlon. I highly recommend volunteering, especially if you are a runner yourself. It really makes you appreciate the volunteers more after being one. I usually try to say thank you to the volunteers as much as I can remember (and when I am not dying in the middle of a race) but now I will try to do it much more often. It REALLY made a difference and made me feel good when I got a simple “thank you for volunteering” from a participant. It definitely gave me warm fuzzies and made me love this great community of athletes I am a part of even more.

QOTD: Do you thank the volunteers at races?

Don’t forget to enter my zero water giveaway at the bottom of this post.

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23 Responses to Triathlon Volunteering

  1. 1

    Volunteering is hard work! I ALWAYS thank the volunteers and give them a smile =) Sounds like you had a busy but fun day.

  2. 2
    Amy Lauren says:

    So glad you volunteered at a race- it looks like you had fun and probably gives you a really cool look at what goes on behind the scenes and a big appreciation for volunteers.

  3. 3
    Nicole says:

    Love reading this! I will be volunteering for the first time is fall at a half ironman. I am super excited. I don’t know what I will be doing yet, but I am sure whatever it is, it will be a wonderful experience.

  4. 4
    Lindsey d. says:

    I’ve volunteered at a couple of races and it’s easily as fun (and as exhausting) as competing. Knowing the course is even more important if you are volunteering at a kids’ race — those little guys need extra help to head in the right direction.

    You’re right about cheering — I worked the Louisiana Marathon finish line, helping direct people to the right finish lines (half or full) and cheered and danced like crazy for four hours straight!

    A point for spectators and racers — please LISTEN to the volunteers. At Louisiana Marathon, I was trying to keep spectators off the course and on the sidewalk and they simply wouldn’t listen, even though they were interfering with the marathoners coming into finish. Volunteers don’t have a whole lot of clout, but we are out there because we care and respecting the volunteers would be a nice thing for spectators to do.

  5. 5
    Alaina says:

    I’ve only volunteered at one race (The Harpoon 5-Miler) but I can’t wait to do it again! I ran the water station and it felt great when the runners came by and thanked us. :-)

  6. 6
    Carrie says:

    Looks like a lot of fun! I really need to find a race to volunteer at.

  7. 7
    Jen says:

    I volunteered 3x as a kayaker at a tri Jeff used to do every year. I am glad I never saw a snake! Ick! Your water stop is very pretty! :) I’ve never volunteered at a water station. It seems like it would be hard work!

  8. 8
    Becca says:

    I always make a point to thank all volunteers I meet :) anyone willing to give their time deserves a thank you! I would have died if I saw the snake in the lake!!!!! Snakes are the one thing that completely terrify me!

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    I always thank the volunteers and the policemen (well, that’s if I can breathe at that moment)!! :)
    Sounds like a great time!

  10. 10

    Great post, Heather! I volunteered this weekend at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and had a wonderful time, too! It definitely does feel great to give back 😀

  11. 11
    Emily says:

    That’s so great that you volunteered! I have volunteering at a race on my list of things to accomplish for this year. It is such a great way to give back. Great tips!

  12. 12
    The UDG says:

    I need to find some races nearby. I love to volunteer (especially when free shirts are involved).

  13. 13
    Holly says:

    I try to remember to always thank both the volunteers and the police officials at races. Yes, the police get paid, but it still seems like the right thing to do to say thank you.

    Since I’m currently injured, I’ve been flexing my volunteering muscles and actually volunteer at IM70.3 Texas yesterday in Galveston. It was a great race and so fun to watch the pros from a front row seat (handing them water- well, flat coke at my table), but I felt so bad for the age groupers–it got HOT in a hurry!!

  14. 14
    kathy bridges says:

    I loved loved this post, especially about Bobby and the snake. Your water station did look very good.

  15. 15
    Ricole Runs says:

    Good for you for doing this! One of my resolutions this year is to volunteer for a race – I hadn’t thought of volunteering at a triathlon before but that is a GREAT idea to get some exposure to what those races are like!

  16. 16

    […] out this running world, I’ve been soaking in a lot of running blogs. Today, one blogger, Heather wrote about her experience as a volunteer for a triathlon. Reading her story, I thought, […]

  17. 17
    Becky says:

    I’d never thought of volunteering at a race, but you inspire me! I wrote about it on my blog and linked it back to your blog!
    (I’ve only just begun my blog, so I suppose my “link back” would be more exciting if I had some readers…hopefully I’ll get some more readers and then my link back will mean something!) :)

  18. 18
    27 | says:

    […] learned that race volunteering can be almost as fun as […]

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